SEMA Show Recap

Odometer (ILX):  18,367

Two million square feet of automotive accessory exhibits.  Can you imagine how crazy I was to think I could experience all that the SEMA show had to offer in just one day?  Not happening!  But, I did have the chance to see the “core” booths that I had most looked forward to visiting.  Among them, the Acura booth.  If I’d gone all that way and seen nothing BUT the Acura booth, my trip still would’ve been a great success.  In only 4 days since my most recent Drive to Five update last week, the ILX and I traveled 964 miles from Phoenix Arizona, to southern Nevada and southern Utah.  Here is how the adventure played out.  Be advised, there are a ton of pictures in here!

I arrived in Las Vegas after the 300 mile drive on Thursday evening.   The 4,750-room, 45-floor Wynn casino is where I stayed the next two nights.  There’s even a Ferrari dealership inside the main level near the gaming area!  This is truly a high rolling kind of place.  My friend found a great rate when he booked it way back in February. View from the hotel room at the Wynn (and my reflection!):

The Las Vegas Convention Center which hosted SEMA is just a few blocks from the hotel (and visible in the above picture), but after having walked a few miles on the Strip on Thursday night, I wasn’t about to do any more hiking.  On Friday morning, we drove over in the ILX and left it in a $10 parking space while we wandered with wonder through as much of the SEMA show as we could possibly see.

Thanks to my brother for allowing me his entry pass!

Arriving at the convention center.

After a solid 20 minutes of hunting (and trying to decipher a 4-page SEMA directory) I finally found the Acura booth, #24987, right behind the Honda one.

Matt and I acting like we run the place, behind the Acura Concierge counter.

What do you spy in the background here?

That’s right, the star of the Avengers movie:  Tony Stark’s car.

It drew a ton of crowd attention!

But the cars I was more interested in seeing were modified Acura ILX’s.

This one is going to compete at a 25-hour endurance race called Thunderhill.  It’s been built by Team Honda Racing – West, which is based in Santa Clarita, California.

No heated seats or leather in here!  This car is all about weight savings & speed.

The bars on the hood are high power LED lights for nighttime racing.

The Thunderhill “Endurance Racer” is a sweet ride, but it’s the blue “Street Build” ILX is the one that has me wanting to make some modifications to my car.  Pictures do the car no justice; it’s absolutely stunning in person.  The upgraded Tein Coilover suspension alone runs $874!  Well out of my budget reach for now — which is probably a good thing, because if I did anything with my suspension it’d void the car’s warranty anyway.  Here’s a walkaround video of this gorgeous Fathom Blue ride.

I reconnected with Daniel Yong who works in Auto Accessory Marketing at Acura’s Torrance headquarters.  The last time I had seen Daniel was in June when I got my ILX.

Some other goodies in the Honda area.  2013 Accords, all tricked out.

There were some interactive displays.

Here’s the race-ready Honda Fit that Acura Senior Manager of Public Relations, Sage Marie, took first place in recently.  He participated in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in the B-Spec class.

Some other sights from around the show.

Loved this Lexus LF-CC coupe concept car.

Ran into my friend John Bazay who’s helped me with some photography in the past.  John was working the Giovanna wheels booth.

Nice name for a transmission company!

There was a drifting event going on outside.

Fighting traffic on Las Vegas Blvd (“The Strip”) after leaving the convention center.  Thank goodness for a light-effort clutch!

On Saturday, I set my sights on southern Utah for my next destination.  A birthday party and a wedding reception awaited me there.  But I took a moment to snap a shot of the ILX in front of the Trump tower and the Encore casino – adjacent to Wynn.

On my way out of Las Vegas, I had to pay a visit to my friend Jeff.  It’s hard to believe it, but I’ve known this guy nearly a decade now and we met — you guessed it — through Acura.  Back in 2003, I was driving my 1994 Legend coupe and Jeff was driving a 1993 Legend coupe.  We met at a Las Vegas Acura “meet” and have kept in touch ever since.  This picture of us with our Legends was taken in July 2003.  That year, Jeff traded his in in Legend on an Acura CL.

Here are our current rides.  Jeff’s Nighthawk Black Pearl 2003 Acura CL Type-S is a rare 6-speed manual (one of only 480 vehicles produced in this color & transmission configuration).  It’s also equipped with some highly sought-after Comptech upgrades under the hood.  His car today is at 92,300 miles. Thanks to his meticulous care, it looks and runs as great now as it did back then.  Even the leather interior is supple.

I encouraged Jeff to take the ILX for a spin so we took a test drive with his son Cody.  Jeff observed that the slick-shifting 6-speed felt a lot like his CL but the clutch effort was quite a bit less.  He liked the small diameter, thickly padded steering wheel.  His son Cody was impressed that the ILX comes standard with push-button start and said, “I really like this interior!”  Cody also offered to wash my car, which I respectfully declined since I had places to go and more bugs to kill.  Next time, Cody!  I’ll take you up on that offer.

The drive from Vegas to St. George is only about 100 miles and it’s straight freeway.  Boring!  In Mesquite, Nevada, I decided to detour a bit.  Instead of taking I-15 the remaining 40 or so miles, I instead took my ILX on Old Highway 91 — the road that was the main north-south highway before completion of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge in 1973.  I love taking a step back in time and traveling the old roads because they offer so much more “flavor” to a trip than an interstate.

It would’ve been only 38.9 miles had I taken the freeway.

Instead, it was 47.1 miles and took quite a bit longer.

Narrow bridge on old Hwy 91.

About halfway to St. George, I breezed past some old rusted-out car hulks in a ditch alongside the road.  I was intrigued so I turned around and went back for a few pictures.

Amazingly, even the chrome rear bumper on this car is still shining like new.

Can any of my Drive to Five readers identify these cars?  I’m guessing something from the early 1950’s.

Time has truly taken its toll on these.

Onward I go!  Here are a few other pictures from my backroads adventure.

See how much more fun this is than a freeway?

Upon arrival in Utah, I approached approached the Jacob Hamblin home on the outskirts of Santa Clara.  Jacob was one of the more famous Mormon pioneers who settled the area in the 1800’s.  Tours of his home are offered but I didn’t have time for much more than a picture of the ILX in front of this two story home made of adobe, sandstone, and ponderosa pine which dates back to 1863.  Hamblin only lived in the home until 1869 until he set off for some missionary work and never returned.  The home is in remarkable shape for its pioneer era vintage.

Since I was still feeling in a historic mood, this morning after breakfast I swung by Judd’s Store.  This place has been around since 1911 and is still open today.  They have some of the best breadsticks around!

Another “key” structure in the St. George community is the Mormon temple, which was constructed from 1871 to 1877 under direction of church president Brigham Young.  The temple has a total floor area of 110,000 square feet.  Its exterior finish is red sandstone (native to the area) which has been plastered white.  The building and its grounds are immaculately maintained.  Hard to believe it’s over 135 years old!

Just past the Arizona state line lies an exit called Black Rock Road.  There’s nothing there, except for this one building that’s totally boarded up.  This sign welcomes (and warns) visitors.  Needless to say, I didn’t venture inside the structure!

Hopping back on Interstate 15 southbound which would lead me through the Virgin River Gorge.

And home sweet home in Scottsdale I’ve arrived.  Thanks for following along!

EDIT updated 11/5/2012:  I can’t believe it took me until now to realize I posted this entry on the one-year anniversary of my completion of 500,000 miles!  It was one year ago, on 11/4/2011, when I rolled on the red carpet at Acura headquarters in Torrance, California to celebrate the milestone in my 1994 Legend.

I appreciate all of you who have come along for the ride since then.  Here’s to many more miles of fun!

12 Responses to “SEMA Show Recap”

  1. My favorite words in this? “Wander with wonder.” Another excellent read thanks to your writing skills. The Tony Stark car was so close to you….so close you could have taken it for a spin and come to gather me up for a ride shotgun! My phone battery is on 33% so it’s a sign that maybe we will get another chance. :). Thanks for taking me on another great weekend even though I never left Logan.

    • Step aside, Tony Stark. We’ve got our name on that convertible! Would love to take it for a spin sometime. Here’s to wishing! Glad you enjoyed the pics & post. Join in on the fun next year. I might need to schedule a 2-day SEMA visit to be able to see more of what was there.

  2. Nice read, sounds like you again crammed a lot of things into a few days and a lot of miles.


    • Terry, thanks for reading. Yes it was an action-packed few days. The ILX is going to get a (much needed) thorough bath on Wednesday evening. How many kilometers do you have on your Polished Metal 6-speed now?

      • Not too many now that we are both retired (5000 km’s) When we both worked it was almost 2400 km’s per month. Now that the rainy season arrived a few weeks ago and will probably last for 6 months there won’t be a lot put on for awhile so will enjoy the driving through your eyes.

  3. Great read Tyson! I’m jealous! I’ve wanted to attend SEMA for years! Glad you have fun and a chance to see what the all the fuss is about with the automotive aftermarket scene.

    • Thanks Adam! This was my first SEMA trip but it definitely won’t be my last. As if I needed anymore reasons so travel to Vegas 🙂 Hope your weekend was a good one as well. How are ILX sales doing in Pleasanton these days?

  4. too bad Tony Stark is going back to Audi *sigh* SEMA looked like a fun time!

    • It’s true Dave! Actually I read an article that Robert Downey Jr drives a Nissan GT-R in real life. Can’t blame him – that’s a pretty sweet ride, too. I had a great time at SEMA and was glad to see some Acura representation there.

  5. Man, love your ILX. The 18″ diamond cut option rims look great along with the color. Great setup. Looks like it was awesome road trip. Love back road driving in the southwest.

    • Thank you! I’m loving it still. It’s been my daily driver for about 3.5 years now. The accessory diamond cut wheels are actually only 17″ but they tend to look a little bigger. Are you an ILX owner as well?

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